AT&T Activates NBA/WNBA Tie-Ups Via 5G Holovision Draft Spot With Patrick Williams & Diana Taurasi

US telco giant continued to reimagine its NBA and WNBA partnership activation through the chaos of 2020 with a November activation leveraging the late running and virtual Draft through an integrated campaign which which included a 5G Holovision session with projected lottery pick Patrick Williams and WNBA legend Diana Taurasi.


Linking its WNBA Changemakers initiative to its mainstream NBA activation, the spot sees the rookie seeks some of the icon’s wisdom and experience to help prepare him for Draft night and the move to the pro league.


With in-person events restricted due to Covid-19, AT&T deployed its 5G network to host their meet-up.



AT&T became the official wireless sponsor of the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and USA Basketball in February 2019 in a multi-year partnership aimed at connecting with a younger, more diverse audience.


As well as logo rights, the tie-up package includes video assets and content spanning Turner Sports and DirecTV (owned by parent brand AT&T), and regularly showcases tech innovations such as 4K, VR and 5G.


Indeed since the 2019/20 season started, AT&T has offered fans a range of 5G NBA-linked experiences across its network and in multiple MBA arenas (including the All-Star 2020 host and Chicago Bulls home ‘United Center’ including its title sponsorship of the Slam Dunk Contest.






This is another example of AT&T’s strategy of going beyond the traditional sponsorship approach during 2020 with a focus on working with companies and supporting players.


Indeed, when the WNBA initially debuted its inaugural ‘Changemakers’ partnership program in January – which sought to elevate women’s sport in general and the league in particular – no one could have known just how much Covid would change life in the coming months.



The initiative linked to a key set of corporate partnerships with AT&T, Nike and Deloitte and aimed to help finance the WNBA’s business transformation as it rebuilt its revenue models after the increased benefits and salary raises secured by the players’ union in a collective bargaining agreement struck at the beginning of 2020 (which including a 53% pay raise, maternity benefits and performance-based bonuses).


But just weeks after the launch, the plan was in flux as the pandemic struck and the basketball season was thrown into uncertainty.


The WNBA and AT&T pivoted to react with a fresh strategy – developed by WNBA chief operating officer Christy Hedgpeth and AT&T assistant vice president of sponsorships and experiential marketing Shiz Suzuki and other executives and broadcasters – which reimagined traditional sports marketing deals and emphasised shared social values to elevate female athletes.


“We had to get a little bit more creative about it on how we do things,” said Suzuki. “For us it was about, ‘How can we best support the women that are going to be in this ‘wubble’ [the WNBA’s counterpart of the NBA’s quarantined tournament bubble] for the next couple months?’”



These changes ranged from practical initiatives such as providing free HBO Max memberships and 5G phones for the players spending months in isolation and bubbles, to marketing move such as putting together a video message of support from big basketball names – including LeBron James – to help start the season.



This was followed by further activation strands such as #ShesConnected WNBA Training Sessions which saw TV host and journalist Danielle Robay share her favourite moments from 5+ hours of training she delivered with us for WNBA players earlier this year, helping players grow as leaders.



“Changemakers is really a collective of like-minded companies around this ability to recognize that women’s sports is so underdeveloped and there’s an amazing opportunity and every reason in the world to support it,” said Hedgpeth who added that the initiative is even more relevant in uncertain times than it was when it was launched.


“We believe that there’s still so much opportunity out there – especially in the current climate – to continue to build on that collective,” Hedgpeth explained. “It’s an opportunity to play a major role in taking this leap to a completely new place, one where [the league is] really, really thriving and healthy, into the future.”











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